blues diva

“Memphis Minnie”  by Kay Robinson

Lizzie Douglas (June 3, 1897 – August 6, 1973), known as Memphis Minnie, was a blues guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter whose recording career lasted from the 1920s to the 1950s. She recorded around 200 songs, some of the best-known being “Bumble Bee”, “Nothing in Rambling”, and “Me and My Chauffeur Blues”.

Lena Horne by Kevin Bentley

Actress and singer Lena Horne was born June 30, 1917, in Brooklyn, New York. She left school at age 16 to help support her family and became a dancer at the Cotton Club in Harlem. After having established herself as a sought after live singer, a role she would maintain throughout her life, she later signed with MGM studios and became known as one of the top African-American performers of her time, seen in such films as Cabin in the Sky and Stormy Weather. She was also known for her work with civil rights groups and refused to play roles that stereotyped African-American women, a stance that many found controversial. After some time out of the limelight during the ‘70s, she made a revered, award-winning comeback with her 1981 show Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music. Continuing to record into her later years, Horne died on May 9, 2010.

theoliv91  asked:

I first want to say that I have enjoyed this little series immensely thus far! I'll be sad to see it go... Just curious, where did you get your inspiration for this cartoon and/or the characters Doris and Mary-Anne?

Thanks so much!  In another post I wrote about how the series, and Doris, was inspired by my love of comedic monologues and old timey schtick.  But now that the final episode is out in the world, I can talk a little more about Mary-Anne’s real life inspiration.  

As I was doing research for the series, I kept coming across all these interesting tidbits about the Harlem Renaissance.  Stories about singers like Bessie Smith and Gladys Bentley, who were fairly open about being lesbians and would headline gay speakeasies like Harry Hansberry’s Clam House.  An amazing name for a lesbian club, btw.

I just thought it was all just so fascinating and inspiring.  It’s tough to be black and a woman and queer in 2015, but these women were flaunting their stuff in the 1920s!  Very bold and brave.  So I thought it would be great if Mary-Anne could represent a person from that scene, and be a testament to that scene even existing.

For anyone interested in hearing more knowledgable people speak on the subject, check out this documentary, T’Ain’t Nobody’s Bizness: Queer Blues Divas of the 1920s.  America was not always the chaste, god-fearing country that some would have you believe.